PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reputation Services Seek To ‘Control What You Look Like Online’

What shows up when you Google yourself? A comment you made to the local newspaper years ago? A photo from a college party you didn’t realize was even online?

A growing number of websites, including Metal Rabbit Media, Integrity Defenders and Reputation.com are trying to help you control what you look like online.

Reputation.com warns that “people aren’t just searching for you, they’re judging you” and you may want to “make sure your online story is still your story.”

Reputation.com CEO and founder Michael Fertik told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that the typical customer is someone who is looking for a job and wants to make sure that when an employer Googles them, something relevant shows up.

Many customers are also starting to date online or apply to graduate school and want to control their online presence.

Reputation.com has an increasing number of corporate customers, including many companies who want to bury a bad quarter of earnings online, or are creating a new product that they want to rise to the top of search results.

But Fertik says there are some people they will not help.

“No violent felons, no one who’s ever been accused of harming a child. Nobody who’s been convicted of a serious fraud,” he said.

Reputation.com charges a $99 annual membership fee, but for the Reputation Defender service it’s $3,000 a month, and it can cost more, depending on how much dirt there is online about you, while the company Integrity Defenders charges around $500 to clear negative links from the first page of search results and about twice that to clear two pages.

But some have raised questions about this type of service.

In 2007, Forbes published an article about Sue Scheff, who ran a business that placed troubled teens in reform schools. As Forbes put it, disgruntled clients took to the web to complain about her business and “a quick Google search used to reveal sites describing her as a ‘fraud,’ a ‘con artist’ and a ‘crook.'”

Scheff hired Reputation.com to help her change how she appeared online, and the company buried negative web chatter by creating a cooking blog for Scheff, even though she does not cook. Fertik says Reputation.com has since decided to discontinue such practices.

“It’s true, we created this cooking blog, we took it down, and we created some very bright line rules that we will not create any content of that kind in the future,” he said.

Fertik says the negative references to Reputation.com in the Forbes article are a good example of why his company is necessary.

“You might Google us and say here’s this Forbes article, there have been 300 articles written about us per year since then. We might ask OK, why is that the first thing you see about us, or the second or the third, which I don’t think it is,” he said.

Aside from reputation management, Reputation.com also offers privacy services– helping customers avoid being tracked online, and remove themselves from databases that sell personal information.

Guest:

  • Michael Fertik, CEO Reputation.com

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Spotlight

Peter O’Dowd follows the route of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train 150 years ago, to look at modern-day race relations and Lincoln's legacy.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

May 26 4 Comments

Old-Fashioned Bell Helps 12-Year-Old Minnesota Boy Battle Cancer

David Gerfast and his family are fighting cancer with an old-fashioned ship captain's bell and high-tech proton beam radiation.

May 26 2 Comments

Just (Lobster) Roll With It: Variations On A Summer Tradition

In New England, lobster rolls are a summer tradition, but if you ask 100 chefs how to make one, you'll get 100 different answers.

May 25 Comment

Father’s Love For Fallen Son Inspires Memorial Day Tradition

In what has become an annual tradition, volunteers join Paul Monti, whose son died while serving in Afghanistan, to plant flags at each gravestone at the Massachusetts National Cemetery.

May 25 3 Comments

An Ordinary Day At Arlington National Cemetery

Official ceremonies will be held at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day. Here & Now's Lisa Mullins has this report of an ordinary day at the cemetery.